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Stop expecting Gerald McCoy to be Warren Sapp

Photo from National Pediatric Cancer Foundation The crowd cheered wildly for cancer survivor Joshua Fisher, left, and Tampa Bay Buc Gerald McCoy at the 14th annual Fashion Funds the Cure on May 6 to benefit the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation at Port Tampa Bay Terminal 2.
Photo from National Pediatric Cancer Foundation The crowd cheered wildly for cancer survivor Joshua Fisher, left, and Tampa Bay Buc Gerald McCoy at the 14th annual Fashion Funds the Cure on May 6 to benefit the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation at Port Tampa Bay Terminal 2.
Published Jul. 25, 2017

Here's the problem when it comes to Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

He's not Warren Sapp, he never will be and that's not McCoy's problem.

It's ours.

McCoy is back in the news again, just as training camp and Hard Knocks are about to start. He popped off on Twitter on Monday, feeling underappreciated. At times like these, we are again reminded that he isn't Sapp. He doesn't have Sapp's Hall of Fame game and he doesn't have Sapp's bigger-than-life personality. Then again, exactly who does? Sapp is one of a kind.

McCoy shouldn't be blamed for that. He has had the bad luck of playing for a team that has been mostly bad in an era following a Sapp era that was mostly good. Imagine how much better McCoy would be if he was surrounded by players as good as Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber.

McCoy is actually closer to another Bucs defensive great: Lee Roy Selmon. Similar personality. Similar game. Similar team around him.

So just imagine how McCoy is viewed, following one player whose name is on a toll road running through Tampa and another who might be the greatest to ever play the position.

The other issue is McCoy is still playing, meaning we see his flaws as well as his attributes. Selmon and Sapp only play in our memories. And in our memories, Selmon and Sapp never miss tackles, they never jump offsides, they never have a bad game.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't have high expectations for McCoy. He was a third overall pick. He's a Pro Bowl player. He's a team leader. He's a lot of things that raise our expectations. If the Bucs are going to go anywhere, McCoy has to be a big reason why.

But we need to stop comparing him to Sapp.

The other day, I suggested that McCoy needs to shut out the noise and just be Gerald McCoy.

Now all he needs is for the rest of us to treat him like he's Gerald McCoy.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones